The teasingly titled Doctor Who Christmas special from 2008, The Next Doctor, is now available on DVD, and the BBC was kind enough to provide us with a copy to review. Here’s a look at the DVD, which features not only the holiday movie but also a special music feature.
Fandomania previously reviewed The Next Doctor as an extended episode, so this review will focus more on its current release and the extras included. In a nutshell, however, the episode has the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) popping back in time to 1851 London and still reeling from brain-sucking his latest companion-slash-victim, Donna Noble (Catherine Tate), into obscurity. The Cybermen have come to spoil Christmas, and as the Doctor leaps into action he encounters another man (David Morrissey) who believes that he is, in fact, the Doctor. Much holiday adventure and sonic screwdrivering ensue, and hey, there’s even a 19th century mech that Godzilla-stomps all over everything!
The video and audio are faithful to the broadcast and transfer nicely to DVD. The special features surrounding The Next Doctor itself are spare, though, consisting of some subtitle options and a chapter menu (if those can still be considered special features in this age of flying cars and robot nannies). I was hoping that something akin to the behind the scenes Doctor Who Confidential episodes would be included, but no dice. What is included, however, is almost worth the price of admission on its own.
I wasn’t previously familiar with the BBC Proms, so after seeing the title of the feature, Doctor Who at the Proms, I was expecting the Doctor to show up as a chaperone at an awkward high school fancy-dress dance. Not so! As it turns out, Doctor Who at the Proms is an hour-long video record of a live symphony presentation of Doctor Who music at the Royal Albert Hall, recorded in 2008. Freema Agyeman, who previously played the Doctor’s companion Martha Jones, acts as the MC of the event primarily features the music of series composer Murray Gold, as conducted by Ben Foster. Catherine Tate shows up, as do a whole bunch of in-costume and in-character Doctor Who villains, including a handful of Cybermen, a Sontaran or two, and at least a couple of Judoon, not to mention a late arrival by a Dalek and Davros. I swear, that’s the geek elite concert to be at, unless you’re one of the mystified and terrified kids shown in the audience, many of whom probably will be describing giant rhino men to their therapists in a few years.
The hidden bonus within the concert is a special mini-adventure called “The Music of the Spheres” starring David Tennant. It’s a short piece produced specifically for the Proms audience, and I couldn’t help but think of the video that plays before the old Universal Studios Back to the Future ride as I watched it. If Islands of Adventure ever gets a Doctor Who ride, this is the clip riders will watch before boarding and strapping into their TARDIS simulators. David Tennant is in full-on “golly gee” mode as he tussles with a little alien who warps from the screen onto the Royal Albert stage and back again. There’s plenty of talking to the audience and instructing the orchestra, and it all leads into the Tenth Doctor introducing one of the musical pieces. It’s high cheesiness, and I promise it’s even more fun if you pretend you’re waiting in a themed line in Orlando while you watch it.
The Next Doctor is a nice DVD package for Who fans and collectors, and it adds a good story to the mythos. I really would have liked to see some special features or a commentary attached to the episode. The concert special is the real reason I’ll be popping this DVD in again, though. Cheesiness of the “Sphere” adventure aside, there’s some awesome music to be had, and it’s a lot of fun to see and hear the crowd’s reaction as the baddies storm the Hall.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars